Mikey Pom-Poms does the Big Balls Dance*

*See demo here. 

Mike Townsend, Burlington Free Press Executive Editor and Gannett Cheerleader-in-Chief, is feeling a little braggy today. He’s repeatedly taken to Twitter to praise the work of his own staffers, throw shade on other media.

A bit of overcompensation, perhaps, for all the criticism that’s come his way since the departures of the Freeploid’s two Statehouse reporters plus at least three other reporters in recent weeks.

Are staffers expected to accept fulsome praise in compensation for persistent job insecurity and ever-tougher productivity demands? Maybe so, because Townsend was also quick to lavish Tweetpraise on reporter April Burbank, who pulled the hard duty of Burlington School Board coverage.

Mikey follows that up with another Tweetbumpf, at which point old buddy Shay Totten chimes in.

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And then, a bit later, a bizarre and condescending slap at competitors unnamed:

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I can’t explain that last one. Maybe Townsend had a mild stroke?

In all my years in media, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a case of Bunched Knickers Syndrome as bad as the one that’s circulating around the Free Press newsroom. This outburst of braggadocio is unbecoming the chief of a reputable news operation. Here’s a hint, Mike: let your work speak for itself.

Also, despite this outbreak of Big Balls Dance, the diminution of the Free Press is already obvious. Since Terri Hallenbeck and Nancy Remsen left, the Free Press’ coverage of the ongoing state election mess has largely depended on the Associated Press. Hardly any original coverage at all.

And really, it’s perfectly understandable: your resources are dwindling, so why not deploy them in your core market — Chittenden County? Just don’t expect us to notice that Statehouse coverage has already fallen largely off the map as a day-to-day matter.

Big Balls Tweets may impress the suits at Gannett. It doesn’t impress those of us who see the product every day.

1 thought on “Mikey Pom-Poms does the Big Balls Dance*

  1. Steve Arrants

    The bizarre and desperate tweets by Messrs. Townsend and Silverman are just the Cheyne-Stokes respiration of an almost dead newspaper. The BFP is now BurlingtonUSATODAY. They may, at times, be first with the news, but they are often shallow with the telling. To not have a local reporter who has contacts and the knowledge to go deeper, instead of relying on the AP to report on Milne and the recall telsl you something. I wonder, if the Colchester story they’re crowing about happened in, say, Bennington or White River Junction, would they send reporters or rely on the AP for the details?

    When I moved to Vermont in 2003, it was a great paper, covering local and state issues. Now, well, flashes of brilliance here and there, but it’s just so dull and full of non-news. And if you want more Fast Food News, their paywall is remarkably easy to get around after you’ve used up your quota of free “news.”


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